After having spent the past two months at Mildly Pleased looking back at 2019 and the decade as a whole, I think it’s finally time to start talking about the 2020s. Perhaps it’s appropriate that my first review of the decade is from an artist that put out great (if not classic) albums in both of the past two decades, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
A big reason why Destroyer has remained so intriguing (and a little unapproachable) over the years is undoubtedly due to frontman Dan Bejar’s need for constant reinvention. Which makes Have We Met a bit of an outlier, since it sounds a lot like his previous few albums. Yet there’s something kind of captivating about how self-assured he (and the band) sounds here, with each song being big on groove and atmosphere, while there’s still a ton of room for Bejar to spout his delightfully neurotic and weirdly melodic lyrics. Continue reading
Paramore – After Laughter (2017)
If you’ve been a music fan for long enough, and you’ve allowed yourself to stay open-minded about what music you listen to, there’s a good chance at some point you’ll end up embracing an artist you once regarded as stupid. This was probably even more likely in a decade like the 2010s, where it became more and more acceptable to like artists that weren’t preoccupied with creating anything other than shameless pop music. So here I stand at the end of the decade admitting that I like a Paramore album that I was turned onto earlier this year, while at the beginning of the decade I’m sure I scoffed at the idea of even having to play a Paramore song in Rock Band.
Solange – A Seat At The Table (2016)
Despite being “the year where everything went bad”, 2016 was a pretty good year for music. So much so that I wasn’t able to put aside the proper amount of time needed to absorb and fully enjoy what has become one of my favorite albums of that year. Thankfully, in the time since the Fall of 2016, while absorbing the depressing repercussions of that time period, I’ve also found myself constantly returning to one of the rare bright spots from that period. In that respect, one could call Solange’s A Seat At The Table the musical equivalent of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, as it similarly saw a longtime underdog finally getting her shot at the big time. Continue reading
Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Style (2015)
It seems that a number of these 2010s albums I’ve been reviewing this month weren’t originally reviewed on Mildly Pleased when they came out because they were released right before the artist became really big. Teens of Style is one such album, though it was more of an album recorded to catch up any budding fans that hadn’t listened to Car Seat Headrest before the band signed with Matador Records. As a prelude to 2016’s Teens of Denial, Will Toledo rerecorded all of his old songs that he’d recorded in college under the Car Seat Headrest moniker and released on bandcamp. This is how Teens of Style was born. It wasn’t the first time Toledo would mine his past for better recording techniques (see 2018’s reimagining of Twin Fantasy), but it was the first time a lot of listeners were introduced to this distinctive new voice in indie rock. Continue reading
Charli XCX – Sucker (2014)
It seemed like a lot of digital ink was spent in the 2010s debating when Charli XCX would take up her throne as the Next Big Pop Star. This always seemed a little silly, since she became a pretty big pop star by any stretch of the imagination, though I suppose part of this stems from the fact that the biggest hit associated with her she didn’t even perform (Icona Pop’s “I Love It”, which she co-wrote and was featured on). There also seems to be some debate on Charli’s best album this decade, while I’ve always had a soft spot for Sucker, an amped-up, joyful kiss-off of an album. Continue reading
D’Angelo and The Vanguard – Black Messiah (2014)
The 2010s saw a number of high profile album releases from artists who don’t release albums very often. I suppose the hardest thing for an artist who’s been out of the spotlight for a while to do is retain their relevance. This can be a tricky (if not impossible) maneuver, considering tastes change at such a rapid pace and don’t seem to be changing any less rapidly these days. So it seems to be the best route a long-gestating album can take is not trying to sound anything like contemporary pop music or even like the music an artist has previously released. It worked like gangbusters for Fiona Apple’s percussive-piano pop masterpiece The Idler Wheel, and it also worked for D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, an album that was nearly 15 years in the making. Continue reading
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels (2013)
I spent a lot of this decade not listening to hip-hop, while also realizing I should probably make an effort to listen to more hip-hop. It’s just that most hip-hop is clearly not intended for someone of my demographic (and that’s fine!), while I’ve always found hip-hop to be the hardest music to listen to while writing or working, which were the main scenarios I found myself listening to music in the latter part of this decade. Still, there were a few artists that made such a splash that I just had to check them out, while one of those artists happened to be the unexpected success story that was Run The Jewels. Continue reading